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IDEA award winners: From laptops to futuristic doors

This year's International Design Excellence Awards winners--everything from the iPhone to a camera for the visually impaired--cover everything from the classic to the visionary.

What do a MacBook Air and a submersible rolling pin have in common--besides both being made on planet Earth? Both are winners in this year's International Design Excellence Awards. The competition, run by the Industrial Designers Society of America and sponsored by BusinessWeek magazine, invites businesses and students the world over to submit their best inventions or design concepts.

Samsung's Design Touch concept
Samsung's Design Touch concept would make touchable pictures for the visually impaired. IDSA

Out of 205 IDEA awards this year, some, like the iPhone, are no-brainers, while many conceptual designs do much to stretch the imagination. Though the list is brimming with interesting gadgets, a few caught our eye.

Samsung's Design Touch concept, which won a gold medal, is a digital camera for the visually impaired. The operator takes a picture, and sound is recorded for three seconds after the shutter clicks.

The recyclable, package-less Lite2Go
Knoend's Lite2Go got a bronze medal for eco-friendly packaging. ISDA

But audio isn't what makes this a concept camera. The Design Touch user would then be able to touch a lightweight, flexible Braille display sheet that displays the picture in 3D on an embossed surface. The 3D pictures with sound can be uploaded, reviewed, and shared.

Other products for visually impaired consumers include student concepts like a voice stick that scans text and turns it into audio, and a Braille cover for touch-screen debit card machines.

New green designs are taking hold, and winners focused on solar panels and eco-friendly boxes. Taking the problem of excess packaging one step further, U.S. company Knoend, produced a lamp that's made out of its own packaging.

The Lite2go Lamp can either be suspended or set on a table, and folds from its packaging into an energy-saving light bulb and cord. When the light burns out, the lamp can be disassembled and all parts are biodegradable or recyclable. The bronze-medal-winning lamp costs $65 in Knoend's online store.

The Maxdoor designed for MaxHaus
The MaxDoor replaces regular doors with sensors, remote locks, rubber, and aluminum. IDSA

The MaxDoor by Brazil-based Nodesign is like no other front door. The doorknob is a sensor that can be touched to open. A remote control device locks and unlocks the door, which is aluminum, but covered by a rubbery finish and rubber seals that block out noise.

Red sensors spell out the house or apartment numbers, and a secret slot opens for mail delivery. The door may only have its place in luxury apartments, but it's already moved beyond the concept stage, so it could already be in some homes.

To see all winning designs and finalists, visit IDSA's Web site.